Welcome to this first question-and-answer session with author of The Red Light, L. H. Roberts, where we talk inspiration, starting early and a love of pushing boundaries…
L. H. Roberts, what made you start writing?
I have been writing stories since I was little. I remember one of my first memories of writing was penning a story about my grandmother’s trip to the supermarket where she encountered all sorts of evil and scary monsters along the way… of course she defeated them all! I must have been 5 or so, but I wanted to turn everyday routines and places into exciting stories and adventures even then.
What were your favourite books as a child?
When I was very young I loved Black Beauty because it was so sensitively written and made me feel that there is a lot of goodness and kindness in people even though the world can be a harsh environment sometimes. I also loved Little Women because it really showed the development and depth of the female leads in a way that I couldn’t often find in other books. I think that is what started me wanting to write women’s fiction, in fact – I wanted to write about other inspiring women with complex personalities that readers would want to know more about and fall in love with.
What inspires you to write now you’re an adult?
I love strong female characters who reflect the kind of women I know and love in my own life. There are so many amazing women out there who do incredible things and often don’t get heard about simply because they’re women. Either that, or they get held up as one-offs who buck the trend; whereas there are, in fact, millions of amazing women out there paving the way for the next generation.
With The Red Light, I wanted to encapsulate all of those feelings in my two characters, Sabrina and Eva. They represent very different kinds of people, but there are bits of myself in both of them, as well as pieces of my friends, ex-colleagues and characters I’ve come across in my life. They both have an independent, firey streak that cannot be extinguished even by repeated setbacks (often at the hands of men!) Whenever they’re down, they pick each other up and do something even better than they were doing before. That is where their strength lies – they don’t settle. I want women to read this book and remember that it doesn’t matter where you are in life, it is never too late to experiment and explore parts of yourself that maybe you never felt you could in the past. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, you know what is right for you. Throw out your inhibitions and get exploring, just like Sabrina and Eva!
Thinking specifically about The Red Light, what is the main theme you want readers to take away?
I want readers to consider pushing their boundaries. Sabrina and Eva both do things they had never considered before during their stay in Amsterdam, and they get such energy and inspiration from it. Even while writing the scenes, I felt inspired by the things they were achieving as if they were my friends who I was watching grow and develop. Sex and the female body is something to be cherished, not ashamed of, and I want women to feel that their sexuality is something they are in control of and can use for their own pleasure, not just that of their partner.
My hope is that Sabrina and Eva show, in their very different ways, what it is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and reap both spiritual and sexual rewards from it. I even feel teary-eyed now thinking about it!